Ofcom has published its third annual Media Nations report for the UK, as well as reports for the devolved administrations. The UK report describes the report as "a reference publication for industry, policy makers, academics and consumers. It reviews key trends in the TV and online video sectors, as well as radio and other audio sectors".  

The report comes during a particularly eventful and challenging period for the UK media industry. The Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown period has changed consumer behaviour significantly and caused disruption across broadcasting, production, advertising and other related sectors.

The key points of the report are:

  1. Changing behaviour during the pandemic appears to be accelerating the growth in viewing of online video, particularly subscription services such as Netflix and Disney+.
  2. The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of public service broadcasters as trusted providers of news and information.
  3. Broadcasters face significant challenges as they seek to overcome financial and scheduling challenges to better compete for audiences.
  4. Competition in subscription video-on-demand services has intensified, with Disney+ making the biggest impact among several new market entrants.
  5. Radio listening was broadly resilient during lockdown, but the sector will need to weather the advertising market downturn exacerbated by Covid-19.

Why does this matter?

An increase in people watching on-demand TV shows that regulation of on-demand services needs to be kept up to date.  Also, the fact that people turned to public service broadcasters for their news consumption is reassuring in the light of reports about misinformation during the pandemic.

E-sports and gaming attracted new users during lockdown, which illustrates that the select committee report and the government response to it dealing with immersive and addictive technologies, and specifically e-sports, was very timely.

Ofcom also highlights that an upcoming structural change in the TV advertising market that could negatively affect broadcasters is the Government’s ban on pre-watershed advertising of products that are high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS). This accounts for a significant share of TV advertising spend and its loss will be likely to place pressure on broadcasters’ revenues.